The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

And one more thing

I’m sick and tired of people talking about how the Cubs have had a "renaissance" or a "golden age" this past decade. No they have not. They’ve mainly had a poop age. The Cubs were decent in 2003 and 2007, and awesome in 2008. They were crap every other year, including years of 95, 96, and 97 losses (2002, 2006, and 2000, in that order). Just because they were the best team in baseball in 2008 doesn’t mean they’ve been great the whole decade, kids.

But, hey, Mark Prior auditioned for scouts today! Maybe the Cubs can sign him back with some of the money they’ll be saving by totally not eating Kosuke’s contract!

June 30th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Baseball is bullshit

I am depressed. The Cubs are beyond awful, and the interwebs have pretty much completely given up on them. I’m seeing articles like this one all over the place that carry the same basic message: blow up the whole team and start over. That makes me sad, because, really, I don’t think the Cubs are that far out of contention, but I also don’t think there’s any other reasonable move. This is an old team by and large, and the players, they ain’t getting any better. Here, because everybody cares what I think, is what I think the Cubs should do.

• Don’t get rid of Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez is at his absolute low-value point right now. He’s not a free agent until after next season (because, come on, he’s going to pick up that $14M option), and he will not be worse last season than he’s been this season. In fact, it’s looking like he’s starting to pull back up — his OPS over the last 28 days is .790, which is a lot better than it’s been. Whatever it is, he’s getting over it. Somewhat.

• Don’t trade Derrek Lee unless somebody offers way too much. Derrek is also at a low-value point right now. What are you expecting to get for a .713 OPS 1B? You won’t get a goddamn thing is what. I’d hope he pulls up to class-A FA status (which is a random event based on fairy dust and rainbows and has nothing to do with anything), offer him arbitration, and see if I can’t turn him into draft picks. And if I can’t? Well, then I get one more slightly-cheaper season out of Derrek Lee as opposed to, what, Micah Hoffpauir? That’s still a win, really. And since he, like Ramirez, probably won’t be this bad next year also, he’s liable to bring more return.

• Trade pretty much anybody else you can, except for Randy Wells and Ryan Theriot. This is really the key here, I think. Randy looks bad this year, but his BABIP is astronomical, which probably indicates rotten luck on batted balls; his sophomore slump involves an ERA about a run and a half higher than his xFIP. Theriot always sucks, but he sucks more this year than he’s ever sucked in the past, and as before: quit selling low, schmucks.

Everybody else can bring you good value. If you’re really dead-set on blowing up and rebuilding — and after today, when the Cubs lost to the Pirates without actually allowing any earned runs, I can kind of understand why you would be — shift them all now before they slide down. Maybe you can package them all up and trade them to the Giants for their entire farm system and every draft pick they’ll get from now until 2016. Would anybody be surprised if Brian Sabean accepted that?

June 30th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

Video games are bullshit

Sure, this article is pretty much bullshit too — and rather badly written, at that. You notice how it professes to be a list of the "hardest" — explicitly the "hardest to defeat" — video game bosses of all time? And how it took them all the way to the second entry to shift the criteria away from "hardest" and toward "coolest?" And how the title definitely says "end" bosses and many of them are not? And how entry 11 is explicitly the Death from the NES Castlevania, accompanied by a wonderful screenshot from Symphony of the Night on the PSX? Yeah. Fuck that article.

That’s not what I came to talk to you about. I came to talk about the extreme contempt Square Enix has toward its players. Do you see this? Do you see this shit right there at the top, at number 1? This boss from Final Fantasy 11 that takes twenty-four hours to beat? And the interwebs suggest to me that it isn’t the only takes-an-entire-day boss in that idiotic game.

Now, I spent five years playing World of Warcraft, and I can tell you this: World of Warcraft has its share of awful encounters, but nothing even close to the sheer unstoppable tedium of a day-long fight. Only Square Enix could possibly think that was a good design decision. Remember, these are the same people who thought that shipping Final Fantasy 7 without finishing the graphics or actually making all the plot cutscenes was a good idea. And who thought that shipping Final Fantasy 8 without bothering to include a game anywhere on the four discs was a good idea.

I guess my point is: Dragon Quest 9 comes out in two weeks and better not have anything this goddamn lame in it, or there’ll be hell to pay.

June 30th, 2010 Posted by | Bullshit, Games | 5 comments


Hey gang, Carlos Zambrano’s in trouble! Let’s put on a show!

Short story: Z gave up four runs in the first inning on Friday, then went back to the dugout and had a massive meltdown, blamed everything on his teammates, and had to be physically prevented from attacking Derrek Lee. So the Cubs suspended him indefinitely, and haven’t yet decided on their next move.

So to Z first. I sympathise with the guy, really; his defense really has fucked him over this year — that’s what it tells you when his FIP is two runs better than his ERA. He’s pitched a lot better than he’s gotten credit for. However. Venting in the dugout after a brutal inning — especially a brutal first inning — is one thing, but you don’t take it out on your teammates. I mean, yeah, 2007 Carlos Zambrano got into a fistfight with Michael Barrett and pretty much all that happened was the Cubs made Barrett disappear. But 2010 Carlos Zambrano is not 2007 Carlos Zambrano, and Derrek Lee is not Michael Barrett. It’s one thing to take a swing at a young catcher nobody really likes, but it’s another thing entirely to take a swing at the damn team captain. Note for you, Z: one of the perks of being captain is that people who pick fights with you get in serious shit.

Derrek, in his postgame press conference, handled the situation just about right. He told the reporters upfront that he would be addressing the game only, and not the Zambrano situation, though he did specify that he had no play on the liner that Z was pissed at him for not diving for, and I believe him, because the diving stop really ain’t an element of Derrek Lee’s game. Derrek’s defensive style is pretty much built around never ever coming off the bag unless he absolutely has to, which is a pretty good plan for a first baseman — no sense in getting to the ball if there’s no way to make a putout anyhow. And the robust-ish defensive metrics find that highly favourable, and consistently rank him as one of the best defensive 1B in baseball.

Range Factor, however, does not. For the duration of his career, Derrek Lee has consistently had the lowest range factor of any 1B in the majors, and that set includes Ryan Howard, Jason Giambi, and the Prince of Fielding himself. Turns out that range isn’t a great big deal for a 1B, since it’s better to do like Derrek and stick to the bag most of the time. So, really, Z, he did what he could have done, and what he should have done. Taking huge risks just for the sake of "being aggressive" is something Ozzie Guillen thinks is a good idea.

And speaking of things Ozzie Guillen thinks are a good idea, Z went out to dinner with Ozzie after the game and asked him for advice. The team is apparently really pissed at him for that, which I don’t get at all; I mean, yes, it is pretty silly to solicit advice from the dumbest man in baseball (true to form, Ozzie’s advice was pretty much just "take it like a man"), but I really really don’t get their weird complaining. Apparently, Loopy and Hendo think that, instead of going out, he should have sat at home and brooded about it instead. Which worked really well for the last guy, I guess. Really, guys? This is a big deal for you? That he went out and had dinner with a (crazy) friend and got some (crazy) advice on how to handle himself? I don’t want to tell you your job or nuthin’, but that’s pretty goddamn petty.

Though they’re not alone. The internet appears to be rotten with oddbrains who think that Z throwing his team under the bus is coolsville, but having dinner with the Dullard of Ozz was just ORMG SLAP IN TEH FASE $15.

Quick Ozzie Guillen craziness roundup!

Here are just a few things that came out of the Prince of Wrong’s mouth in reference to the Zambrano situation:

"Carlos has been like that since he started playing baseball. Now all of a sudden he sucks and people are pointing fingers at him. When you don’t produce and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do and you make a lot of money, you’ll always be the same guy. … He’s been like this for a lot of years and they should know; we should know that’s the way he is."

"He will do what I told him to do, face it like a man, don’t turn your back on the problem. What are they going to do to him? Trade him? Release him? Suspend him?"

"That’s part of the game. That’s the way he is. If I see him, that’s the way he is and you’re not going to change that. Now he has to come back to the team and talk to his teammates I guess."

"I’m not saying I’m a dictator, but I don’t believe in guys going out there and fighting each other. Sometimes that’s good for the team. Sometimes they need that, you never know. When that happens, it wakes a lot of people up and they play better."

June 27th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

In re: suck

Andy Dolan wrote this thing about why the Cubs suck this year. And, I mean, he’s not wrong: the team pretty much is an unwatchable mess. There are two main reasons for this: Derrek Lee is not hitting, and Aramis Ramirez is not hitting. That’s really it. The pitching’s been really, really good — Dempster, Lilly, and Gorzelanny have all been excellent, and I guess you’ve heard how good Carlos Silva is — but they don’t have a lot of almighty Ws because they get no run support. The team ERA+? 111. The team OPS+? 8fucking9. Do you see? And about that OPS+… well. Soriano, Soto, Fukudome, Byrd, and especially Tyler Colvin have all been really good this year. It’s just Lee and Ramirez pulling the team down, really (well, and the gnome patrol in the middle infield, but nobody thought they’d be any good in the first place).

But Andy doesn’t seem to have spotted that. Instead, he’s on the crazy train writing nonsense words about platoon splits and BA with runners in scoring position. Here’s my beef with Andy’s beef:

Ryan Theriot – Why does he suck? In 265 at bats he has SIX extra base hits. Six. His slugging average for the season is .302.

Yeah, the Riot’s pretty fucking bad. No argument here. He may be cajun, just like his teammates Mike Fontenot and Gambit, but .322 OBP ain’t gonna cut it with the complete lack of power.

Nobody thinks that he should be playing shortstop anymore, especially now that we’ve been reminded what a real shortstop looks like, but check out Theriot’s splits.

As a shortstop: .341 ba, .374 oba, .390 slg, .764 ops

As a second baseman: .221/.264/.229/.492

Watch your sample size, there, Andy. It’s like 150 PA, which isn’t enough to conclude that there’s something magical about second base that ruins Theriot’s hitting ability. Especially when you consider 2007:

As a shortstop: .253 / .312 / .325 / .637
As a second baseman: .272 / .325 / .360 / .685

Kind of makes the numbers he put up at short — which was all at the very beginning of the season in one consecutive chunk — look more like he was on a hot streak than it does like he’s just better at hitting that way, doesn’t it.

E-ramis Ramirez: Seriously. I mean, what the fuck? In six full seasons with the Cubs, E-ramis had only put up a sub .900 OPS once, two years ago, and even then it was .898. This year? It’s .517.

Yeah, no argument here. Dude’s been brutal. His OPS+ has never been below 126 with the Cubs — which is really fucking good — and this year it’s 34. Which is really fucking bad. Lack of a 3B is the main reason the Cubs are awful. Fangraphs’ weirdo free agent dollar value metric shows that Ramirez should be paying the Cubs $4.1 million this year, which is pretty funny.

Derrek Lee: In six full seasons with the Cubs, Lee’s OPS is .909. Not this year, it’s .729.

Yeah, he’s also been rough this year. Not getting on base or hitting for power. He may be trending upward, though; his June numbers are better than his April and May.

If he doesn’t start hitting, nobody’s going to want to trade for him at the deadline. But here’s the thing. He doesn’t want to go anywhere. The Cubs aren’t bringing him back next season. They have to get a lefty bat at first base. So wouldn’t he want to go someplace else? Is it because he already has a World Series ring, so he doesn’t care if he has a shot at another?

Here’s where I start having a problem with this article. It’s no secret that I have a giant gay man-crush on Derrek Lee, and this bit rubs me the wrong way. I also get really annoyed when people are stupid about baseball, so it loses points there, too.

First, let’s blow off the idiotic argument about Derrek Lee "not caring" if he wins or not. My first piece of evidence is: fuck you. Let’s just leave it as assumed that that’s my second and third pieces also. Now let’s think for a minute — with our brains, you understand — and see if we can come up with some reason why Derrek wouldn’t want to be traded other than "he doesn’t want to win," which, I guess, would also make Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, who play for a much worse team in the same division, and who both stated that they’d like to stay with their team even though it’s losing, complete shitshacks. Maybe Derrek really likes playing for the Cubs. Could that be it? Could it be that Derrek and Lance and Roy all like the organisations they work for, and their teammates, and their fans, and don’t really want to leave? Maybe they do want to win, but what they really want is to win as Cubs (or Astros where applicable). Come on, Andy. Use your thinks.

Now. About platoon splits. I’m not sure there’s any concept in modern baseball as overvalued and misunderstood as platoon splits. The Cubs "have to get a lefty bat at first base?" Why? You don’t get like extra bonus win credit at the end of the season if you have a perfectly even number of right- and left-handed hitters. Here, as near as I can tell, is Andy Dolan’s list of criteria to be used when selecting a first baseman:

1) Platoon split (hint: left-handed)
2) Desire to play for some other team (more is better)
3) Heart
4) Grit
5) Hustle
6) Better not make any fucking errors

Quick, Cubs! Dump this loser and give Darin Erstad a call! He’s a lefty, he’s world-renowned for his heart, grit, and hustle, he made zero errors in 2009, and he has so little desire to play for the Cubs that he retired last week instead. Sure, he hasn’t had an OPS+ even approaching 100 since 2004, but that shit don’t matter. Lefty. Sign him!

Come on. As I and everybody who knows anything about anything could tell you, having a first baseman who hits left-handed is way, way less important than having a first baseman who hits really well. Now, I know Derrek’s been shitty so far this year, but here’s his 2009 line:

.306 / .393 / .579 / .972, 145 OPS+

You really think the Cubs should dump that shit just because he’s right-handed? That’s stupid. That’s so stupid they’ll almost definitely do it.

Oh, and, incidentally. Last year D-Lee sucked until the end of May, and then got ridiculously hot for the rest of the year and ended up posting great stuff. His september/october split of .367 / .482 / .744 / .1226 is looney-tunes.

Kosuke Fukudome: I’m not even going to bore you with another example of how his numbers tank month to month every year.

Good, because you’d be wrong. People really want to believe that, and it’s just not true.

Kosuke Fukudome, July 2009: .307 / .392 / .534 / .926
Kosuke Fukudome, August 2009: .287 / .398 / .506 / .904

That’s pretty fucking good. Yeah, he sucked on ice in June last year, and he sucks again in June this year. But those July and August numbers are awesome any way you slice it.

Alfonso Soriano: June: 6-43 (.140), 13 K’s.

Alfonso Soriano: May: .308 / .376 / .626 (!) / 1.003

Also, since you wrote this article four days ago, Soriano’s monthly BA has come up to .232. Which should give you some idea of why batting average is an intensely stupid stat to use to analyse small samples of data.

Geovany Soto: He’s rebounded from a disastrous 2009, but how can guy with a solid batting average and good OPS only drive in 17 runs? Well, just go 4-32 (.125) with runners in scoring position. That’s how. He has seven homers, so in 187 plate appearances he’s driven in anybody but himself ten times.

What? Fuck right off with your idiotic "batting average with runners in scoring position" preschool stat. That’s awful. 32 PA? That’s it? That’s your whole sample size? That’s terrible use of statistics.

Here’s a better answer for people more interested in correctness than in cherry-picking: Geovany Soto has had 90% of his plate appearances batting either seventh or eighth in a lineup where nobody — least of all the dudes hitting immediately in front of him — ever gets the fuck on base. Andy, seriously; did you not notice when you were picking your cherries there that he’s only had 32 PA with RISP? 32. That’s it. The Chicago Cubs have a team OBP of only .326, and that’s including Soto’s own awesome .405. Without him it’s something a good deal lower, and that’s the kind of on-base ability you’re expecting him to be driving in.

Starlin Castro: Let’s get the provisos out of the way. He’s the youngest player in baseball. He plays hard and he’s got a lot of talent. But nine errors in 39 games? Holy shit. But hey’s he’s only third in the league at errors at short. He’s also the only one in the top five who spent the first five weeks of the season in the minors.

Everybody knows that I think pitching wins is the worst stat in baseball. Unless it’s saves. Well, let me just tell you: as soon as the science of fielding catches up with pitching and hitting, errors will dethrone wins and saves in a heartbeat. Errors is an incredibly stupid stat that effectively punishes people for being better at defense.

Let me explain this. Wins are complete bullshit, but there is a set of objective criteria. Saves are the same. But errors? Errors are fucking judged. The official scorer hands them out as he sees fit according to what his guts and intestines tell him about the game. He decides if you "should have" been able to make a play, assuming "ordinary effort." And he has to do this in near-real-time, with no access to meaningful data.

Nobody ever gets an error for not being able to get to a ball, which is why, when the gnome patrol was playing up the middle, you’d see sinkerballer Carlos Zambrano getting lit up even though he seemed to have good stuff; you’d get base hit after base hit right up the middle because neither of the cajun fried shrimp could get to them. But did they get errors for all of those missed balls? No they did not. Castro has a lot more range at short, and gets to a lot more balls, which is a good thing, but which increases the number of errors he’s liable to get.

Another stupid thing about errors. If Castro runs deep to his left and stabs at a hard bouncer and it tips off his glove over into shallow right and the runner gets in to first safely, it’s probably an error. If he doesn’t reach the ball at all and it rolls into center allowing the runner to get in to first safely, it’s a single.

In conclusion: errors are for criminals and nitwits. Fangraphs has Castro at 2.3 UZR so far this year, and, as you say, he spent the first five weeks in the minors. In those five weeks, Theriot was good for -3.4 UZR.

Tyler Colvin: There’s not a lot not to like about Colvin. He’s put up good numbers and done it long enough now that it doesn’t seem like a complete fluke. He’s even not as terrible against lefty pitching as we feared (.261 average, .726 ops), and he crushes righties (.315, 1.039). But one thing that has to change. In 112 at bats he’s struck out a whopping 35 times. That’s 31 percent of the time. Just wait until the Cubs sign Adam Dunn next season and these two bat back-to-back.

Here’s the thing about batter strikeouts:

Who cares.

Colvin’s OBP is .351. That’s plenty enough to prop up his comical .612 SLG. He is not making too many outs, and it really, really doesn’t matter how his outs get made. Strikeouts are only very slightly worse than fly outs, but they’re slightly better than ground outs, and, in all honesty, it pretty much evens out in the end.

You know who never strikes out? Juan Pierre. You want to do this? Colvin for Pierre, straight up?

Carlos Zambrano: His good start Sunday will help, but before that he was 2-4 as a starter with a 6.23 ERA. As a reliever he was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA. The move of sending him to the bullpen was asinine, but honestly, he’s sucked most of the year regardless of when they’ve used him.

His FIP is 3.96. The shitty defense in the middle infield has fucking killed him this year. His two-seamer and curve — the two pitches that result in all those groundballs — are way down. The rest of his pitches are just as good if not better than they’ve been. No, man, Z’s problem is mostly defense.

The rest of it’s some crap about the bullpen, mostly using ERA to evaluate dudes like Bob Howry who’ve thrown nine innings so far, which is useless (the short truth on Howry: walk rate is too high [to the tune of 3.9 BB/9], and K rate is way, way too low [2.9 K/9], but it’s been nine innings and that ain’t enough to get anything meaningful out of).

June 24th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

There are two things that every baseball team must have

And those two things are magic and voodoo. That, anyhow, appears to be the opinion of Yahoo’s Tim Brown, who can’t think of any other reason why the Dodgers are winning. Take it away, Tim!

The Los Angeles Dodgers, by now, were to have collapsed upon themselves.

What? Why? The Dodgers are a pretty good team. I knew they weren’t going to collapse, and I’m a board-certified moron.

Beneath the heft of ownership that has artistically executed the leap from self-destructive to certifiably wacky …

That’s not my ellpisis there; Tim wrote it that way. And there’s nothing being elided — he just wrote that subordinate clause and then, I guess, couldn’t come up with anywhere to go from there, so he just left it dangling.

Another problem is that he implies that going "from self-destructive to certifiably wacky" is a bad thing, when I and Robin Williams both consider it a material upgrade.

Grasping for a pitching staff that had turned to mist …

He did it again! He did it again. Tim, that’s not the way you write, man. Not for money. That’s like 3 a.m. stoned teenager Livejournal shit. Especially with that terrible metaphor. "Mist?" Also, their pitching isn’t that bad. Kuroda and Kershaw have been fine, and Broxton’s been unstoppable. If Billingsly and Sherrill can get their shit together, this pitching staff’s going to look really good really quick.

Running an offense (and payroll) around a PED-head cleanup hitter whose slugging percentage (were he reliable enough to accumulate the qualifying at-bats) would rate 59th in the game …

You know what would be a nice addition to this article? An independent clause. Also maybe you could mix in a true fact somewhere in this list of false facts.

Manny Ramirez, 2010: .298 / .386 / .504 / .889, 141 OPS+

That’s not that bad, Tim. Yeah, he’s down a bit, but it’s early days; checking his game logs — since here, in the grim darkness of the far future, we can look this shit up instead of just scratching our chins and asking ourselves "Hmm… what would Old Hoss Radbourn do?" — suggests that he’s been in a slump for about a month now, before which he was crazy dynamite, what with his 1+ OPS and all. But he’s also absolutely raked in his last two games — to the tune of six hits with a HR — so he may be coming out of it. Hitters do slump, Tim. Especially 38-year-old hitters. More especially 38-year-old hitters recovering from an injury.

Tim wrote this article four days ago. In the four days since, Manny has brought his slugging percentage up high enough to tie Dan Ugly for 36th. .504 SLG ain’t too bad, Tim.

The Dodgers were to have gone the way of one of those fire truck-swallowing sinkholes you hear about out here.

Did anybody think that? Idiots, maybe. They went to the NLCS last year, and the whole team’s back again this year except for, what, Randy Wolf? Not seeing why we’d expect them to lose 400 games.

Even after a lopsided loss to the Los Angeles Angels in the first game of the Freeway Series on Friday, the Dodgers are even with the San Diego Padres in the National League West and among a small handful of teams in baseball flirting with a .600 winning percentage.

Now, here’s where I need to get careful. The Dodgers are overperforming. Unlike what Tim says, they shouldn’t be drowning — they should still be winning, just… not by as much. They’ve scored 304 runs and allowed 290, which gives them a Pythagorean expectation of 33-31, compared to an actual record of 37-27. So, yeah, they’ve been a little bit lucky. Not an unreasonable swing, though.

If you want to go by third-order wins — and, hey, let’s get fucking nerdy up in this place — the Dodgers actually pick up a third of a win over their Pyth, though they move down to fourth in the division because the Rockies are meaningfully underperforming.

So. Short version: yes, .600 is pretty silly for this team. No, they shouldn’t have collapsed. The end.

The owner is into his ex for $7.7 million a year (or almost what he’s paying his starting shortstop)

Why is that important? The Cubs are paying their starting shortstop about $450k. The Yankees are paying theirs like $30M. Does this matter somehow? Furcal’s pretty good, for what it’s worth.

the iconic manager can’t bear to commit to another season

Joe Torre will be seventy years old next month. Can you blame him?

the entire starting rotation has 100 career wins

So? The Yankees’ rotation has 656 career wins, and they’re just about equally as good. Turns out that what Andy Pettitte did in 1998 doesn’t have much bearing on the 2010 season. Or, since we’re talking about wins, I guess I should say: turns out that what Andy Pettitte’s teammates did in 1998 doesn’t have much bearing on the 2010 season. Really the only thing worth taking out of the total career wins of the Dodgers’ rotation is: hey, these guys are pretty cheap and probably have their best years still ahead of them. Which is usually considered a good thing, crazybones.

Manny Ramirez has morphed into Austin Kearns (sans glove, arm, hustle)

That’s a remarkably asshole way of saying that Austin Kearns is in the middle of a career year. Note carefully that the player Tim dismissively compares Manny Ramirez to is having his best season ever. That’s a good sign that Manny isn’t nearly as done as Tim, for whatever reason, wants you to think. I won’t talk about hustle — since that’s something all my fucking numbers can’t measure and don’t you forget it — but, if you want to talk glove and arm, well, Fangraphs puts Manny at -3.5 UZR on the year, and Kearns at -1.6. So, yeah, I guess Manny is two whole runs less glove-y and arm-y.

and all the Dodgers have done for the last six weeks is win baseball games.

That and the thirteen they lost, yeah.

It can’t all be about the "V energy," can it?

No it goddamn can’t. V energy, Chi energy, Kaio-ken times three, N-rays. It can’t be any of those things on account of: they don’t exist. True answer: it’s been hitting and pitching. But mostly hitting.

Well, no. Even Vladimir Shpunt – the club’s faith healer/cosmic 10th man/DirecTV subscriber – admitted to the L.A. Times that at his best he covered the last 10 percent of good fortune, 15 percent tops. (Like we often say, "If all else fails, Shpunt!" Other times, we say, "Hey, who’s the guy mind-melding with his Samsung?")


In spite of marginal production from Ramirez

In Tim Brown’s world, 141 OPS+ is "marginal."

a so-so start for Matt Kemp

In Tim Brown’s world, 115 OPS+ from a CF is "so-so."

and a starting rotation that ends with unheralded rookies John Ely and Carlos Monasterios,

In Tim Brown’s world, John Ely’s and Carlos Monasterios’ unreasonably low Heraldedness Over Replacement Player (HORP) are more important than, say, their ERA+es of 116 and 132.

the Dodgers have been just mediocre enough in everything to make something of themselves.

But keep in mind that this man considers a 141 OPS+ "marginal." I’m not sure it’s possible to be good enough to break through the other side of mediocre.

That’s pretty much it. The rest of the article’s just a big sloppy hand-job to bench players, since apparently the real key to the Dodgers’ season has been Reed Johnson’s 102 PA of 93 OPS+ goodness and not that slumping asshole Manny. The real key to my enjoyment of this article is that, usually, when somebody writes an article about how a team is winning because of voodoo and mojo and hustle from the bench players, it’s because he hasn’t noticed that the pitching is really, really good. And this time he’s overlooked the hitting. Tim has actually overlooked Andre Ethier’s fifth-in-MLB OPS of 1.021 in his rush to lavish praise on Reed Johnson and Xavier Paul. And that’s terrible.

June 16th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Get a load of this

I promise I’m not making any of this up.

According to a story in today’s Los Angeles Times by Bill Shaikin, Dodgers owners (or is it owner) Frank and Jamie McCourt hired a self-described "scientist and healer" to give "positive energy" to the team by watching games from his home outside of Boston.

If anybody’s interested in hiring a scientist and healer to direct negative energy at the Dodgers or the Fatinals or especially the White Sox by writing Ricklesian articles about them on a blog from his home outside of Boston, drop me a line.

The "psychic" is Vladimir Shpunt, 71, a Russian with "degrees in physics and a letter of reference from a Nobel Prize winner" who knows next to nothing about baseball.

Well, to be fair, the McCourts do have a history of hiring people who know next to nothing about baseball.

His compensation included a stipend, plus a bonus of "certainly six figures and even higher" based on the team’s performance. The Dodgers paid him from 2004-2008, and the McCourts hid this from the club’s executives.

Wh… holy shit. Six figures? And even higher? To do nothing but watch baseball and like channel some type of Dragon Ball Z energy through the tubes? I guess Joe Morgan isn’t the most overpaid baseball-watcher in the whole world after all.

According to Shaikin, Jamie McCourt was introduced to Shpunt in 2004, when she was suffering from an eye infection that almost caused her to lose sight in one eye.

Did he say if she was on some type of medication that made her a moron? Or was she always that way?

Shpunt used his energy to help treat Jamie, and the rest is history.

Come on, Lardieri. You’ve been doing well so far, but, seriously, that line needs some type of irony quotes or snarky asides or something. Since the way you wrote it makes it sound like you’re buying into this psychic chakra qigong kamehameha bullshit.

Also, I think somebody’s playing a joke on me. Your name is "Lardieri?" And the dude’s name is "Shpunt?" Am I on Candid Camera?

The McCourts used his services to also evaluate Jayson Werth’s injured wrist in 2005, as well as providing assessments of J.D. Drew, Milton Bradley, Jim Tracy and Paul DePodesta.

Given that time frame, I’m sort of assuming — since you don’t say — that he advised them to get rid of Drew and DePodesta and acquire Bradley and Tracy. Which is the exact opposite of the thing they should have done in every instance. Tee hee.

These are the same people who slash payroll, didn’t attempt to trade for Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay and refused to offer salary arbitration to Randy Wolf.

Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. Fucking whoa there, cowboy. One of these things is not like the others. Randy Wolf is awful. At baseball. It’s not clear to me if it was 2007 or 2009 that they refused to offer him arbitration, but I’m not going to look it up, because: it doesn’t matter. It was the right decision both times. Randy Wolf made $4.75 million in 2008, and his ERA+ of 92 was worth a shiny wonderful 0.7 WAR. In 2010 he’s making an astonishing $8.8 million, and his ERA+ of 74 is good for exactly 0 WAR. He is a replacement-level player, and he’s making $8.8 million. So good on you, McCourts, for not paying him. And bad on you, Lardieri, for not knowing better.

Money for psychics and divorce attorneys, but not players?

You’ve gone off the crazy curve, Lardi. Those two things are not equivalent. When you have a dillion dollars, you kind of can’t get divorced without a divorce attorney or two. Whereas nobody ever needs a psychic for anything. I mean, anything except taking down a rogue Hitmonlee.

Commissioner Bud Selig also has some ties to this charade. Remember – he’s the man who practically gave the Dodgers to the McCourtsas a consolation prize for not winning the bid to buy the Red Sox. The McCourts clearly didn’t have the financing to buy either team, but Bud didn’t want to agitate Fox (MLB’s television partner) or impede their attempt to sell the Dodgers. Thanks, Bud!

Here we go — the requisite Bud-bashing. That fucking guy. Remember when he wouldn’t let the Cubs get obliterated by a hurricane for the benefit of the Astros? Asshole. Choker. Head-case.

Also, hey, the McCourts did all right, didn’t they? Dodgers have made the playoffs a few times under their watch. Shame about TEH COMSPIRACY, though.

Mark Cuban, are you watching all this?

If you are, hey, the least you could do is go back to the old Mavs logo. It’s pretty gay, but, seriously, Mark, have you seen the one you’re using? The 1990s are over, man. We can’t handle anything that XTR33M anymore.

June 10th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Kenny Williams in a nutshell

"Some changes need to take place. I don’t know what and I don’t know when but some changes need to take place."

So, to recap, White Sox fans: your general manager knows that changes "need to take place," but the nature of those changes and when they’ll occur is beyond his comprehension. Also his employment of the passive voice suggests that he’s not planning to do any of the changing personally — he just figures that, you know, sooner or later something’s bound to happen.

Don’t worry, south-siders! You’re in good hands. Your GM doesn’t know anything, your manager doesn’t know anything about anything, and the president can’t name a single one of your players even though you’re totally his favourite team ever. Does it surprise anybody that MLB is making a reality show about these nitwits?

June 9th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

More proof that there is a God and He has a direct personal vendetta against me

Carlos Silva won again today, maintaining his MLB-leading win percentage of 100%. And he did it with the goddamn flu. Apparently he had to take several emergency vomiting breaks throughout the game, and he made some extra outs on the bases due to being unable to run at all whatsoever. And he was still completely invincible.

I promise you this. If Carlos Silva wins the NL Cy Young, I will kill myself. Suicide pact ahoy.

June 7th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Future perfect?

So get this. Last night, Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game, which is the third so far this season, and the fourth in the last twelve months — and only the twenty-first in baseball history. That’s pretty wild all on its own. Also pretty wild: who the fuck is Armando Galarraga?

The wildest part, of course, is that umpire Jim Joyce blew the call on the final out of the game, awarding a single to some damn dude from the Indians when he was clearly out by a furlong. Maybe even a league. Maybe a parsec; you never can be sure with Indians. They’re crafty.

Because preaching is for queers, I’m not going to get involved with the should-he-or-shouldn’t-he debate about Bud Selig overturning the call. Instead, I’ll stick to making fun of people. Let’s start with the Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, who has issued a proclamation declaring from on high that Galarraga pitched a perfect game, MLB be damned. I mean, seriously; is there any problem the government can’t solve?

Representative John Dingell and his awesome comedy name hope not. Dingell is primed to introduce a resolution in the Congress declaring that Galarraga pitched a perfect game. I mean, holy shit, with both state and federal edicts against them, MLB won’t have a leg to stand on trying to run its business according to its own rules! Get that shit right or the government will take over. That’s the American dream, assholes.

Hell, even the White Ethnically Diverse House is getting involved, with official spokesman Robert Gibbs putting the pressure on. You thought the federal government’s pointless and expensive meddling in steroid use was a pain in the ass, Bud? You ain’t seen nothing yet. I expect that when a few more days have passed and Perfectgamegate really gets going, somebody’s going to propose the creation of a congressional committee to oversee umpiring. Or maybe they’ll just send in the army and impose martial law at all baseball games.

June 3rd, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments